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Myth and Metropolis: Walter Benjamin and the City Hardcover – February, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a highly stimulating contribution to our understanding of Benjamin's work on the city. It is one which is written with a commendable clarity that makes Benjamin's often complex investigations accessible to students without losing the rich textual diversity of Benjamin's own presentation of the city's labyrinths."
-- Professor David Frisby, Glasgow University

"Walter Benjamin and his work on the metropolis is the topic of a new study by Graeme Gilloch, a study so rigorous in its scholarship and penetrating in its observations that it rises above the recent plethora of lesser works on Benjamin. This elegant study now displaces Susan Buck-Morss's Dialectics of Seeing as the most authoritative work on Benjamin and the city. Gilloch situates Benjamin's discussion of the city within his overall theoretical outlook, evocatively highlighting the surrealist, Marxist and Freudian impulses in Benjamin. The result is as convincing as it is charming." (Building Design)

"[A] close and sensitive reading of Benjamin ... Since Gilloch's book is clearly and lucidly written, it can be recommended for teaching for students, although it is also an interesting and indeed valuable commentary in its own right." (Urban Studies)

"Graeme Gilloch's excellent book now offers a comprehensive overview of Benjamin's urban preoccupations, which will be essential reading for anyone seeking a detailed account of Benjamin's complex relationship with the city. The whole book is an exemplary study and can be thoroughly recommended ... probably the most accessible recent book on Benjamin's thought available to the advanced undergraduate student. This is a book of exemplary scholarship which will become a central resource for advancing our understanding both of Benjamin's work and urban theory in future years." (Environment and Planning)

"Remarkable and scholarly book, a work of almost overwhelming erudition and full of incisive observations ... perceptive interpretation ... elegant and highly readable. An excellent example of concise writing which, given the often contradictory nature of Benjamin's work, must have been a major task. The ease with which Gilloch disentangles Benjamin's thought processes leads one to suspect a superficiality of approach but this is far from the case. Gilloch's masterful analysis now displaces Susan Buck-Morss's book as the definitive work on Benjamin and the city. Benjamin's message is as relevant today as when it was written, providing the historian, design or otherwise, with the most incisive commentrary on the experience of modernity yet to be written." (The Journal of Design History)

"Urban historians will be indebted to Gilloch for his labours. What he has done ... is to make one of the classic texts on the modern city more accessible to those not steeped in the Benjamin œuvre." (Urban History)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Walter Benjamin is now widely recognized as one of the most original and perceptive thinkers of the twentieth century. This book, now available in paperback is a timely and lucid study of Benjamin's lifelong fascination with the city and forms of metropolitan experience.

Benjamin's critical and complex account of the modern urban environment is traced through a number of key texts: the pioneering sketches of Naples, Marseilles and Moscow; his childhood reminiscences of Berlin; and his brilliant and unfinished studies of nineteenth-century Paris and the poet Charles Baudelaire. Gilloch emphasizes the importance of these writings for an interpretation of Benjamin's work as a whole, and highlights their relevance for our contemporary understanding of modernity.

Essential reading for anyone concerned with Benjamin's work, Myth and Metropolis will also be of interest to scholars and students in social theory, cultural analysis and urban studies.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Pr; 1st edition (February 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745611257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745611259
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,248,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RWordplay on August 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautifully written, provocative and truly mind expanding, Gilloch makes Benjamin not only relevant but necessary. Benjamin like Freud like McLuhan, like Baudrillard invites engagement, welcomes new interpretations, even demands controversy--Gilloch does it all and the read is as substantial as it is rewarding. The book opened doors into Benjamin that I could not pry open alone. In Gilloch's company, I feel I can enter Benjamin's labyrinth confident I'll emerge with a real grasp of the man's intent.
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